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Resolutions & Amendments

37th International Convention - Chicago, IL (2006)

Protecting our Public Schools

Resolution No. 14
37th International Convention
August 7-11, 2006
Chicago, IL

Legislation, ballot initiatives and resolutions have been introduced recently in various states that would require school districts to spend at least 65 percent of their budgets on classroom instruction.  This concept is being pushed by a right-wing, anti-tax group called First Class Education.  The goal is to require the “65 percent solution” in all states either through referendum or legislative action by 2008; and

This arbitrary designation for allocating school revenue will adversely affect such critical functions and services as health care, libraries, food, building maintenance, transportation, counseling, security and professional development for staff.  At the same time, it will give ill-informed and ideologically motivated school officials a new justification to contract out services; and

The Governor of Texas issued an executive order requiring the phasing in of this “65 percent solution.”  Georgia passed a law adopting the concept.  Kansas and Louisiana have passed resolutions endorsing the concept while proponents in Arizona, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon and others, have either passed resolutions or are considering legislation or ballot measures in 2006 that require the 65 percent spending allocation; and

The folly of the “65 percent solution” was exposed in a recent study conducted by Standard & Poor’s that showed some of the highest performing school districts spend less than 65 percent, while some of the lowest performing districts spend more than 65 percent; and

Several states are actively challenging the Bush Administration’s No Child Left Behind law.  For example, Connecticut sued the U.S. Department of Education, alleging the act is illegal because it requires expensive standardized tests and other school programs without providing the necessary funding.  The Utah legislature passed a law requiring state officials to ignore provisions of the act that conflict with the state’s education goals or require state financing; and

School voucher programs are a form of privatization.  They take money out of public school systems already overwhelmed by the unfunded mandates of the NCLB to fund private education.  Voucher programs undermine public education, reduce funding for public education, and have the potential for racial, economic and social segregation of children; and

Charter schools vary from state to state depending on enabling legislation and can be public or private.  They are all financed with tax dollars but are not necessarily subject to the same rules, standards, and regulations as traditional schools.  There is no evidence that education outcomes are better in charter schools; and 

Proposals to contract out non-instructional school services are often made by school districts needing to deal with fiscal difficulties.  Those school administrators that propose contracting out to save money and focus on the “mission of teaching” ignore the integral role non-instructional school workers play in the learning process and school environment, as well as the problems of privatization.

That AFSCME will work to stop all efforts to implement the “65 percent solution” by exposing it as a misguided and misleading approach to student achievement and a direct attack on public schools; and

That AFSCME will lobby Congress to fully fund the NCLB; and

That AFSCME opposes all voucher programs because they drain public resources from our already underfunded public schools to support private education; and

That AFSCME will work to protect public education by opposing all charter schools that are not publicly administered. We oppose any charter schools that do not provide for job security and the maintenance and preservation of all current collective bargaining relationships.  We also oppose charter schools that are not under the control of public school districts, do not include measurable and reported standards, do not require certifications or other qualifications required for jobs in public schools, and do not give local school districts the right to approve or disapprove charter schools operating within their districts; and

AFSCME supports adequate and equitable funding for all public school students; and

That AFSCME will continue to oppose privatization of non-instructional school services and to educate the school community, including school board members, about the shortcomings of privatization and the need for a strong system of public education.
SUBMITTED BY: JoAnn Johntony, President and Delegate
Sandra Wheeler, Secretary and Delegate